Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States

Justice Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court of the United States

Clarence Thomas was born in June 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia, and grew up in Savannah with his maternal grandparents. His parents were descendants of American slaves, and the family spoke Gullah as a first language. He was the only black person at his high school in Savannah, where he was an honor student. Raised Catholic, he considered entering the priesthood and attended Saint John Vianney Minor Seminary, later attending Conception Seminary College in Missouri. He earned an undergraduate degree in English literature from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He received a deferment from the military draft to serve in Vietnam due to having a curvature of the spine. He graduated from Yale Law School with a Juris Doctor.

He was appointed an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri and subsequently entered into the private practice of law. He served as a legislative assistant to Senator John Danforth of Missouri and was appointed Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. President Ronald Reagan appointed him Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Thomas was appointed by President George H.W. Bush for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he served 18 months before being nominated to a seat on the United States Supreme Court. His confirmation hearings before the Senate were bitterly fought, but he was subsequently confirmed by a vote of 52-48, and assumed his position in October 1991, succeeding Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is the longest-serving justice among current Supreme Court members.

He is divorced from Kathy, with whom he has one child, and is married to Virginia. He is a Catholic.

In the News…

Justice Clarence Thomas authored the Supreme Court opinion that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives erred in its interpretation of a federal ban on machine guns, extending it to include rifles equipped with bump stocks. The change in definition was made after a semiautomatic weapon was used in a mass shooting in Nevada in 2017.

Justice Thomas wrote, “The National Firearms Act of 1934 defines a ‘machinegun‘ as ‘any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.‘“

He continued, “A bump stock does not alter the basic mechanics of bump firing, and the trigger still must be released and reengaged to fire each additional shot. For many years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) consistently took the position that semiautomatic rifles equipped with bump stocks were not machineguns.“

The court’s decision stated the ATF exceeded its authority in issuing the reclassification rule and that a semiautomatic weapon with a bump stock is not a machine gun since a single pull of the trigger does not fire more than one shot.

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Justice Thomas today? You can let him know at:

The Honorable Justice Clarence Thomas
Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20543


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